New Orleans has a large Irish population. It also has one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. Every year, I return to New Orleans to march in the Irish Channel St. Patrick’s parade, which is held the Saturday before March 17th, unless the 17th is a Saturday, which this year it is. There are four St. Patrick’s parades, not counting the Irish-Italian parade, which parades the weekend after St. Pats.

I know what you are thinking. Centola is not an Irish name. However, my fraternal grandmother’s maiden name was Murphy. Back in Boston, I have cousins with the last names of Duffy and O’Brien. I think this qualifies me to march in the St. Pat’s parade.

I am fortunate enough to be able to march with my three brothers. Also included in our group is a couple of cousins, and friends, including my neighbor who started marching with us last year. Our group, The Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day Club has one of the largest parades in the city of New Orleans, rivaling some of the Mardi Gras parades.

The riders of the floats toss cabbage, carrots, onions and potatoes to the crowds. Add some stew meat and seasonings and you have everything you need to make a New Orleans Irish Stew.

New Orleans Irish Stew

3 tablespoons Canola Oil
2 pounds Stew Meat, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large Onions, cut into 1/4-inch slices
5 cloves Garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Dried Thyme
3 tablespoons Tomato Paste
1 pint Beer
4 cups Beef Stock
1 tablespoon Sugar
3 Bay Leaves
3 tablespoons Butter
3 Carrots, sliced into rounds
4 large Potatoes, cubed
2 cups Cabbage, sliced
2 tablespoons Parsley, chopped

In a large stockpot over medium heat, heat oil. Add beef and brown on all sides. You might need to do this in two batches. It will take about 5 minutes for each batch to brown. Remove and set aside.
Add onions and sauté about 3 minutes until translucent. Add garlic and thyme and continue to sauté until garlic releases oils, about 1 minute. Add tomato paste and continue to sauté for 1 minute. Add the beef back into mixture and continue to sauté until browned, about 4 minutes.
Deglaze with beer. Add stock, sugar and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
In a sauté pan, heat butter and sauté carrots and potatoes until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add cabbage and sauté until slightly wilted, about 3 minutes.
Add sautéed vegetables to stock pot and cook through before serving. Garnish with parsley.

Here is a recipe for all of you crock pot cookers out there. Corned Beef and Cabbage is a great dish to put on in the morning and have ready for you to eat when you come home from your busy day.

Irish Channel Corned Beef and Cabbage

3 pounds Corned Beef
1 Onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups Water
1 pint Chicken Stock
4 Carrots, chopped
1 head Cabbage, broken apart

Rinse the corned beef and cut off excess fat. Place the onion on the bottom of the slow cooker. Place the crowed beef on top of the onion. Add water, stock, carrots and cabbage.
Cook on low heat for 8 to 10 hours, or until meat is cooked and the vegetables are tender.

Next time, I will tell you about New Orleans first family of the restaurant business, the Irish family of the Brennan’s.

Wishing you Irish Blessings and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!